Takata Airbag Fatality in Ford Pickup
By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Jun 29, 2016
If you have been following the news about the Takata airbag recalls, you know that the dangerous defect in this product can result in fatal injuries. According to a recent article in The New York Times, regulators indicated that the most recent death in a Ford pickup was the first Takata-related fatality in a non-Honda vehicle. It was the 10th death in the country connected to the faulty Takata airbags. The fatal injuries occurred in December. While the man was driving, the airbag inflator exploded.
Regulators Expanding Recall of Vehicles with Takata Airbags
With news of the recent death in the Ford pickup truck, federal regulators decided to expand the automobile recalls involving vehicles with Takata air bags. According to the article, at the time of the fatal accident in December, 19 million vehicles were already under recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) added five million more vehicles to the list, which also involved extended the list of manufacturers implicated in the recall. Now, consumers with Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz vehicles—two auto manufacturers not previously tied to the Takata recall—should be aware of defective airbags.
The first Takata airbag rupture happened more than 10 years ago, but the recent recalls make clear that we do not yet know just how big the problem might be. And even for consumers who know that their vehicles have the potentially deadly Takata airbags, it is difficult to get a quick and easy fix. Indeed, millions of consumers’ cars remain unrepaired, due in some part to the mere unavailability of the replacement parts. To be sure, only “27.3 percent of recalled driver’s-side airbags have been replaced and 25.8 percent of passenger-side bags,” according to the article. When you do the math, a majority of customers are still waiting to have the faulty product replaced.
Concerns Grow About Other Potentially Dangerous Vehicles Not Yet Recalled
Are there more automobiles on the road that may have the dangerous Takata airbags installed? According to Rosemary Shahan of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, there are two serious issues that remain when it comes to the current recall. First, automakers are not being aggressive enough in fixing the automobiles that contain these defective airbags. And second, Shahn worries that there are people driving around who do not know that they could be at risk of fatal injuries. As the article notes, “regulators need to be more forthcoming with which other cars might be at risk.”
Right now, federal regulators are waiting to determine whether or not any air bags made with ammonium nitrate—the element that appears to be the cause for the rupture of the air bag inflator—are safe for use. Ammonium nitrate is a compound that we usually see in “large-scale application like mining,” the article explains. Takata is “the only major airbag manufacturer to use the ammonium nitrate propellant.” However, if the company cannot prove that it is safe to use in automobiles, federal regulators will recall all airbags that contain ammonium nitrate. In other words, millions more automobiles could be added to the recall list.
Discuss Your Case with a Philadelphia Product Liability Lawyer
The most recent recalls impact vehicles made by Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Saab, and Volkswagen. If you or someone you love sustained injuries caused by a defective auto product, you should discuss your case with an aggressive Philadelphia product liability attorney as soon as possible. Contact Cohen, Placitella, & Roth, PC today.